Week in the forest: has anyone been frightened by the bellow of a red deer?

Photo Peep Käspre
Translation: Liis
European red deer    Euroopa punahirv       Cervus elaphus
The mating period of red deer is underway, and during this time the majestic animals are unwary. They have gradually reached Lääne-Virumaa, where Peep Käspre photographed them.
A male red deer (stag), with magnificent antlers, weighs less than an elk but its weight can still be  up to a quarter of a ton, or 250 kilos. His entire activity during recent weeks has been to gather his „harem“, protect it from competitors and mate with all the females - that are significantly smaller - in heat. In mid-October the mating period will end and a dominant male will have lost one fifth of its body weight in one month – during that time there is no time for eating. Young stags have to keep away from the “old hands“ and the fights between old bulls can become quite bloody – look at their antlers.
Have you heard the bellow of a red deer in the forest? The powerful sound carries up to five kilometres, reminding of a lion’s roar; not many have heard it, it is rather scary the first time.
Male with his harem
Summary compiled by Peep Männil
The red deer population in Estonia is about 3000 individuals according to hunters’ estimates. More than half of them inhabit Saaremaa and about one fourth Hiiumaa. In mainland Estonia more deer occur in the southern areas. In Latvia the species occurs everywhere, and from there migration takes place to us. Our red deer population has increased strongly during the recent decade. At present attempts are being made to hold back the rapid increase in abundance since the red deer is a competitor to our native species the elk with regard to habitat and food.
See more details about the status of red deer in Estonia in the game surveillance report pp 23-27::
(English summary of report pp 80-81)
Red deer distribution in Estonia based on the 2013 winter snow-track count in established transect areas. Map: Keskkonnagentuur (KAUR).




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